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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Wednesday
May242017

"All His Works Are Right and His Ways Are Just" -- Daniel 4:19-37

The Ninth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

King Nebuchadnezzar has had a second terrifying dream.  Once again his court magicians and wise men cannot interpret his dream.  Greatly troubled, the Babylonian king summons his Hebrew servant Daniel to interpret this dream which has disrupted the king’s life of relative ease and comfort.  Daniel will reveal that the unsettling circumstances foretold in Nebuchadnezzar’s previous dream are soon to come to pass.  In the prior dream (as recounted in Daniel 2), the king saw a frightening metallic stature with a head of gold, which represented the king and his empire.  But that kingdom will fall before a series of empires yet to follow.  Nebuchadnezzar and his vast kingdom will come to an end–replaced by the Persian empire then just beginning to rise to power.  Although Nebuchadnezzar remains convinced that his kingdom is mighty and that it stands as a testimony to his own accomplishments and greatness, as a consequence of these two dreams, the king is beginning to realize that his kingdom is no match for YHWH’s.  YHWH rules all the kingdoms of the earth from heaven.  His kingdom is not of this world.  His kingdom is eternal.  None of this can be said of any earthly kingdom, including Nebuchadnezzar’s.

As we continue our series on the Book of Daniel we pick-up where we left off last time (v. 19 of Daniel 4) when the king had another troubling dream and then summoned the Hebrew prophet (Daniel) to interpret the dream for him.  Ironically, it was Daniel (a believing Jew), who, in gaining favor with the king after interpreting his first dream successfully was appointed prefect over Nebuchadnezzar’s pagan court magicians.  The king’s magicians fail again and so it falls to Daniel to explain to the king what his second dream foretold–events which Nebuchadnezzar probably suspected (based upon his previous terrifying dream years before), yet which now brought him to a breaking point.  

As we saw last time, ideally this passage (Daniel 4–Nebuchadnezzar’s last appearance in the Book of Daniel) is best treated in one sermon, but the tyranny of time does not allow us to cover the passage in enough detail in one sermon to fully unpack its contents.  Since this is a “part two” sermon in a sense, I’ll briefly recap the ground we covered last time, before we turn to our text–the balance of Daniel 4.  

The scene described in Daniel 4 comes late in Nebuchadnezzar’s life and forty-plus year career, likely at some point after his prolonged military campaigns in Judah and Tyre, yet before his final campaign in Egypt and his death in 562 BC.  Chapter 4 contains a first-person account from the king (in the form of a letter) about his dream, his subsequent break with reality, followed by his equally dramatic restoration.  The king has witnessed YHWH’s power and sovereign hand often enough to willingly confess that YHWH is the Most High God (v. 1), who is all powerful (v. 35), and whose kingdom will never end (vv. 3, 34).  Yet Nebuchadnezzar never confesses his sins nor repents of them (or even acknowledges that he is a sinner).  He never rejects the pagan gods of Babylon, even though he is forced to acknowledge that Daniel’s God (YHWH) is much more powerful than Bel (Marduk), the king’s preferred god from among the legion of Babylonian deities.  We see in this chapter that Nebuchadnezzar has reached the pinnacle of his career, has another frightening dream, suffers a mental collapse (as foretold in the dream), and then has his sanity restored.  All of this is YHWH’s doing.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
May222017

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (May 22-28)

Sunday Morning, May 28:  We return to our series on Galatians.  We will take up Paul's discussion of Christian liberty in Galatians 5:1-6.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  Why should we do good works?  We will discuss the Heidelberg Catechism's answer to this question (Lord's Day 32 (Q & A 86-87).  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, May 24, (7:30 p.m.):  We follow-up our series on personal evangelism by  discussing evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

The AcademyResumes in the Fall of 2017. 

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
May212017

"Guilt, Grace, Gratitude" -- Psalm 130:1-9

Here' Rev. Lenzner's Morning Sermon on Psalm 130:1-9:  Click Here

Sunday
May212017

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

Creeds and Confessions

For the last two thousand years the church has crystalized various summary statements about the Bible’s most important teachings into clear, short, and easy-to-memorize statements that outline the most crucial and non-negotiable aspects of the Christian faith. On this program the hosts will discuss the importance not only of affirming the substance of these creeds and confessions but also of making it a regular practice to recite them publicly during our weekly worship services so that “the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim 1:13) becomes part of our new identity.

Click Here

Wednesday
May172017

"The Most High Rules the Kingdom of Men" -- Daniel 4:1-18

The Eighth in A Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

In Daniel chapter 4, we are given remarkable insight into a man who has played a key role in Daniel’s prophecy–the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.  In each of the three chapters of Daniel we have covered so far, Nebuchadnezzar has exerted his royal power and authority, demonstrated his hot temper and tyrannical nature, while championing the “gods of Babylon.”  We have also seen that both his “gods” and his Chaldeans (the wise men and court magicians) repeatedly failed to give the king what he needed.  The great king was even forced to seek help from one of his young Hebrew servants to interpret a troubling dream–which he will do yet again in chapter 4.  YHWH has clearly won the battle with the idols of Babylon.  Through all of this, it has become clear that YHWH is sovereign over all things, a fact which Nebuchadnezzar has been forced to admit repeatedly when neither his idols nor his Chaldeans could help him, and then again in chapter 3 when Nebuchadnezzar personally witnessed three Hebrew officials (who were friends of Daniel) survive being thrown into a super-heated fiery furnace with the aid of a mysterious fourth man (the pre-incarnate Christ, or an angel of the Lord).  

In Daniel chapter 4 everything has changed.  Much time has passed and Nebuchadnezzar is a different man.  But Nebuchadnezzar has yet another dream which Daniel must interpret for him–only this dream comes much later in the king’s career, toward the end his life.  In this chapter–filled with remarkable contrasts and ironies–we read of a king whose days as a cruel tyrant seem to be past.  We find a man who greatly enjoys the creature comforts accrued after a long career as ruler of a great empire.  Daniel’s report almost makes us feel sorry for Nebuchadnezzar as the pagan king is forced to wrestle with the fact that YHWH is the sovereign Lord, who rules the affairs of men and nations, and of whom Nebuchadnezar will affirm, “how great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.”  

We also learn in this chapter that Nebuchadnezzar has yet another dream which must be interpreted by Daniel after we read again of the inability of the king’s court magicians to do so.  We also learn (in vv. 28-33), that at some point during this period of his life, the great king experiences what used to be described as a “nervous breakdown.”  This complete mental and emotional unraveling causes the king to flee his palace and his capital city to live among wild animals, while eating grass and becoming almost unrecognizable in appearance.  Chapter four ends with Nebuchadnezzar regaining his sanity and affirming YHWH’s greatness, but not making a credible profession of faith.  

On the one hand, this is a fascinating story as we witness such a mighty and cruel man come to the brink of faith, then instead fall into madness, only to be restored unto sanity.  On the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar’s inner-struggles are revealed by Daniel to serve as a powerful reminder to the Jewish exiles then living under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule in Babylon (those who are the initial recipients of Daniel’s prophecy), that no human king is truly sovereign over the dealings of men and nations–only YHWH is.  Kings rule only as YHWH allows them.  YHWH can and will protect his people, even as they suffer under a tyrant’s rule, Daniel and his three friends being the proof.  

Daniel’s message to the exiles is that YHWH chose to give this particular kingdom to this man at this time and place–YHWH even forces Nebuchadnezzar to realize that fact.  But YHWH can just as easily give Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to another–as we will see with the fall of Babylon to the Persians, shortly before the end of Daniel’s life.  YHWH is Nebuchadnezzar’s Lord.  YHWH is the one who ultimately determines the fate of the Jewish exiles.  Through his prophets YHWH has revealed to the exiles in Babylon that one day their exile will come to an end, and YHWH’s people will return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and its temple.  Nebuchadnezzar cannot stop this, and in this chapter we are given a glimpse into why this is the case.  The great king is a mere man, with a great many problems, fears, and weaknesses of his own.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
May152017

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (May 15-21)

Sunday Morning, May 21:  Rev. Brad Lenzner will be preachingOur worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  Rev. Lenzner will be leading our catechism service, which begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, May 17, (7:30 p.m.): We will be looking at evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

Academy:  Resumes in the Fall

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

 

Sunday
May142017

"Two Covenants" -- Galatians 4:21-31

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon:  Click Here

Sunday
May142017

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

No Creed But Christ?

What are Christians known for in our day? If you ask people on the street this question, you’re likely to get answers that relate to particular moral or political concerns, but though they may be important, do these issues get to the heart of our faith? In her book Creed or Chaos (1940), Dorothy Sayers observed that “it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology.” On this program the hosts will discuss Sayer’s profound observations as they begin a new series on the importance of recovering creeds and confessions in contemporary Christianity.

Click Here

Wednesday
May102017

"But I See Four Men" -- Daniel 3:1-30

The Seventh in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

After Daniel interpreted the king’s frightening dream, Nebuchadnezzaer was greatly relieved.  In fact, the king was so thankful to Daniel that he acknowledged his young Hebrew servant’s God as “God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries.”  The Babylonian king even made good on his promise to reward anyone who could interpret his dream.  He “gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon” (v. 48).  Daniel remained in service to the royal court until his death about 538 BC–living well into his eighties.  But while Daniel remained a trusted court advisor to both Babylonian and Persian officials, his three Hebrew friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were serving elsewhere as high officials in the province of Babylon–a favor which Nebuchadnezzar granted to Daniel on their behalf.  Although Nebuchadnezzar offered high praise to YHWH because he revealed the meaning of the dream to his servant Daniel (as recounted in chapter 2), it will become clear that the Babylonian king never gave up his pagan ways and erected a golden statue, demanding that his subjects worship it.  This strange demand is a mix of a gigantic royal ego, ancient near-eastern power politics, combined with pagan religion.  Once again, Daniel’s friends’ lives are in danger, and this time Daniel will not rescue them–YHWH will, in what amounts to the next round in the on-going conflict between YHWH and the idols of Babylon.  

As believers in YHWH, Daniel’s three friends (who were taken captive when Daniel was) refuse to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, believing this to be a violation of the first two commandments in the law given to Israel by YHWH–There are no Gods but YHWH, and YHWH’s people are not to worship idols.  Upon learning that three of his own appointed officials refused to worship the statue–especially three men who were serving in this capacity as a favor to Daniel–Nebuchadnezzar erupts in his characteristic rage and fury.  The king demands the execution of these rebellious Hebrew officials–just as he had ordered previously with his court magicians.  Yet, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, will be spared again, only this by far more dramatic and miraculous means.  

This passage (Daniel 3) is one of the most famous of the so-called “Bible stories” (along with “Daniel in the lion’s den”) which Christian children are taught, and which few forget because of the nature of the story, its ability to capture a child’s imagination, and because of the sing-songy names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  While Bible stories are anything but harmful, they are often sanitized and prone to miss the main redemptive-historical point of the original event, which is, in this case, the conflict between YHWH and the idols, reflected in the difficult struggle faced by YHWH’s faithful servants in exile, who are under tremendous pressure from a pagan king to renounce their faith, and who threatens their lives if they refuse to renounce their faith in YHWH.  The alternative is death and martyrdom–such as we have recently seen on the evening news, ironically, in the same location.
 
As we continue our series on the Book of Daniel, we come to an episode which reflects the struggle of Hebrew exiles living in Babylon now living under the heavy hand of a tyrannical king like Nebuchadnezzar.  Although commanded by YHWH to live their lives to the fullest during their exile (cf. Jeremiah 29:1-9)–including serving in the government of the nation which was bringing havoc upon their own people (Israel)–YHWH’s people are to worship and serve him only throughout their time away from the promised land.  Nebuchadnezzar, however, now demands that all his subjects worship a newly-erected golden statue–an edict which includes all the exiled Hebrews in Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar’s order also included the rulers throughout his entire kingdom, likely extending to the Jewish vassal king back in Judah (Zedekiah).  In any case, the act of bowing before such a statue would have been an extreme violation of a Jew’s conscience, and an act of open disobedience to YHWH’s commands.

To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here

Monday
May082017

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (May 8-14)

Sunday Morning, May 14:  We continue with our series on Paul's letter to the Galatians.  This week we tackle Paul's discussion of the two mountains, the two women, and two covenants in Galatians 4:21-31.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  What are the "Keys of the Kingdom?"  We discuss this from Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 31 (Q & A 83-85).  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, May 10, (7:30 p.m.):  We continue our series on personal evangelism entitled, "Telling the Truth in Love."  We will be looking at the "dos and don'ts of evangelism."

Academy, Friday, May 12, (7:30 p.m.):  We will be viewing and discussing Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our text for this series will be Hollinger and Capper, The American Intellectual Tradition.  Be sure to get a used copy!  They are much cheaper!

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).